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The Buzz in North Macedonia: Interview with Tatjana Shishkovska of the Polenak Law Firm

The Buzz in North Macedonia: Interview with Tatjana Shishkovska of the Polenak Law Firm

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“NATO accession and the green-light to opening EU accession talks were strong indicators of political stability in North Macedonia in March this year“ begins Tatjana Shishkovska, Partner at the Polenak Law Firm in Skopje. “But the COVID-19 crisis has made things more complicated.“

Shishkovska reports that the parliamentary elections that were initially scheduled for April 12 are now expected to occur in July. But, in fact, they may be moved yet again. “We are currently at the end of the declared state of emergency, but, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising every day, we might yet see another extension,“ she says. “Until the elections do happen, the current political situation will be imbued with uncertainty and unpredictability, which will most certainly be a turn-off for investors.“

For the time being, North Macedonia still has a transitional government in place. “The transient government rules via decrees which have the power of law,“ Shishkovska explains, “and the brunt of these decrees have been tackling the fallout of the crisis, in terms of public health and the economy.“ The economic stimulus measures, she says, have been “focusing primarily on SMEs, whereas larger companies – the ones that create a lot of jobs too – have been left out.“ According to her, these larger companies, which are mostly export-orientated, are not on the “government’s radar right now.“

Shishkovska reports that the projections for North Macedonia’s economy currently predict “an 11% contraction in the GDP with no clear bounce-back analysis done as of yet.” All things considered, she says, it could have been worse. "I feel like we’ve been successful at absorbing the initial hit of the crisis – there have been no massive layoffs and it would seem that the service economy will be doing better once the country opens up a bit more.“ Still, she says, it is “impossible to make a definitive prediction at this point, we are going to have to wait a few months more.“

Finally, Shishkovska says that “what the COVID-19 crisis taught us is that indeed the future came faster," and she points to the fact that the legal market has adopted a more digital approach to doing business "almost overnight.” According to her, “we, and I believe most of the law firms, switched to remote work, or half-in half-out, in order to reduce risks and exposure.” She reports that, “this switch enabled us to retain the levels of productivity that are similar to what we had before the crisis, and I hope the good practice of digitalization stays in place even after the crisis ends.“